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Connacht Tribune

Guarded welcome for agri plans in Govt. programme

Francis Farragher



FRANCIS FARRAGHER looks at different aspects of what’s proposed for agriculture in the FF, FG and Green Party Programme for Government.

WEST of Ireland farm leaders have given a guarded welcome to the agri-rural section of the Programme for Government agreed this week by Fine Gael, Fianna Fáil and the Green Party.

The retention of the Nitrates Derogation; no restrictions on live exports; and a new REPS style environmental scheme have been welcomed by the IFA.

However, farm leaders have cautioned that the implementation of the programme for the agri-rural sector will be monitored closely to ensure that pledges made are followed through.

Galway IFA Chairperson, Pat Murphy, told the Farming Tribune that the new environmental scheme should be very good news for the West of Ireland on the presumtion that it would be low on red-tape while at the same time delivering a meaningful financial reward.

“We all know that the environment and environmental issues are the future and farmers are more than willing to play their part in this whole process.

“Farmers are enthusiastic about making positive contributions on environmental matters but the paperwork must be kept to a minimum while the financial compensation must be realistic in terms of making their enterprises viable,” said Pat Murphy.

He also said that the commitment to set up an independent appeals procedure for farmers who had faced penalties under the various schemes was to be welcomed. “The current appeals system is totally unfair and had to change,” said Pat Murphy.

He also said that there was a sense of relief that there was nothing in the Programme for Government as regards getting rid of the Nitrates Derogation and the live export of Irish cattle.

“The Nitrates Derogation is an essential for dairy farmers. If it was got rid of, it would have implications in terms of dairy farmers having to acquire more land to supply their feed needs, making land more expensive either to buy or rent,” said Pat Murphy.

He said that the IFA had lobbied intensively on issues like the environmental scheme, the Nitrates Directive and live exports over recent weeks, adding that their work had ‘paid off’.

“The push will be continuing to deliver a better Sheep Welfare and Suckler Cow scheme. We are still seeking a payment of €300 per suckler cow and €30 per ewe from the new Government.

“Suckler cow farmers along the Western Seaboard counties are the basis of the Irish beef industry producing the quality cattle that backbone the whole industry.

“What seems to have emerged from the Programme for Government is a first step along the way in what we are trying to achieve. The pledges are there but now, over the coming months, it’s action we need,” said Pat Murphy.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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Connacht Tribune

Remote working creates rural boom

Stephen Corrigan



Report....Professor Alma McCarthy.

Urban dwellers are now looking to up sticks and move to the countryside, as working from home becomes the norm – and with a new survey showing almost all workers who have made the switch hoping to maintain some level of remote working, rural life is becoming increasingly attractive.

According to one of the lead researchers behind the second national employee survey carried out since the onset of Covid-19, remote working is surging in popularity, with 94% of over 5,600 participants hoping to continue working remotely for some or all of the time – an increase from 83% six months ago.

Professor Alma McCarthy of the Cairnes School of Business and Economics at NUIG told the Connacht Tribune that the desire to continue working from home had grown since the first phase of the survey in April, with more flexible hours and no traffic adding to its appeal.

“What we are looking at here is a particular cohort of the workforce that have jobs which lend themselves to working from home, and where people have that opportunity, we see that support has gone up [for remote working].

“Most people want a blended type of working arrangement, where they work from home some of the time and go into the office maybe one or two days a week. I think that is probably how it will look from now on,” said Prof McCarthy.

The number of people who wish to work from home five days a week has more than doubled since April, now at 27% compared to 12% in the early days of Covid-19.

See full story in this week’s Connacht Tribune, on sale in shops now – or you can download a digital version from our website

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Connacht Tribune

Retail outlets stay positive despite shut-down

Stephen Corrigan



Challenge...Fiona Charity.

Galway retailers have reiterated calls to shop local online in the coming weeks, as Level 5 restrictions force them to close their doors in the run up to peak shopping season.

From today (Thursday), unessential retailers must shut up shop until December 1 – limiting outlets such as clothes, furniture and toy shops to online sales and collections only.

One such shop is Modella Fashion in Corrandulla, which only opened its doors for the first time in July, and while owner Fiona Charity said it was clearly a huge challenge to start a new business in a pandemic, she remained hopeful that she could weather the storm.

“It’s obviously hugely disappointing, but public health is the most important thing, and if this works, we might have more freedom for Christmas.

“We are lucky in that we went live with our website last week and that’s been really busy already. Even though we can’t open, people are able to order online and have their order delivered, or click and collect,” said Ms Charity ahead of closing this week.

Likewise, Standún in An Spidéal has seen a surge in their online sales since the onset of Covid-19, according to manager Deirdre Ní Ghríofa, who said the message for everyone was to “shop local as much as you possibly can”.

Ms Ní Ghríofa said they had a big increase in local sales online during the early days of the pandemic and that was something she hoped would continue in the run up to Christmas.

See full story in this week’s Connacht Tribune, on sale in shops now – or you can download a digital version from our website

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Connacht Tribune

Back in our bubble – and braced for the impact

Dara Bradley



Fourth Class pupils from Galway Educate Together NS in Newcastle enjoying the wonder of science to mark the launch of Galway Science and Technology Festival's 2020 online programme running from November 8 to 22.

Galway is braced for the economic impact of this week’s return to lockdown – with both the pub and retail sector preparing for the worst.

The head of the county’s publicans predicted that as many as one in five outlets will never reopen, given that the best case scenario now is that they’ll return to Level 3 for Christmas,  which limits outdoor drinkers to just 15.

In a stark warning, Chair of the Galway branch of the VFI, Joe Sheridan, said a conservative estimate was that 20% of pubs won’t reopen – but that could rise to one-third if they didn’t see some return to business for the festive season.

Retailers too were predicting the worst – but still with the belief that a good December could save them.

The reasoning behind the move to Level 5 was underlined by the fact that new cases of the infection are now rising at a rate of 500 per week.

After another record week of positive cases in Galway, there were 13 patients in two public hospitals being treated for Covid-19 – twelve in UHG and one in Ballinasloe.

There were a further three suspected cases in UHG.

See full coverage of the Covid crisis in this week’s Connacht Tribune, on sale in shops now – or you can download a digital version from our website

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